by Candi Brammer, Ambient Musings
SPIRIT DOME reunites the artisanship of Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana who have released superb collaborations in the past such as WELL OF SOULS, CAVERN OF SIRENS and INNERZONE. "Created live on the spot in room 314" printed inside the linear notes has got me wondering .. were there occupants in neighboring rooms 313 and 315 while this was all taking place at around 1 a.m.? With no editing or manipulation done to the original recording, SPIRIT DOME captures the raw essence of Roach and Obmana's demiurgic capabilities and transcends my already high expectations of what these two can produce. Divided into eight parts, SPIRIT DOME is actually one long, uninterrupted piece spanning 73:31 that builds and evolves subtly throughout with no obvious transitions between tracks.
Opening with the sound of water churning beneath rocks inside what feels like a grotto or vast chamber, cricket chirps add to the presence of nightfall, conveyed further by dissonant tonal shifts. Chain-like clatter gradually intensifies as understated tribal drumming emerges, eventually fading into the backdrop for a later re-emergence. Eerie, metallic chords and stark wind hollows hover above an obscured restlessness. The album is filled with plenty of aural-organic spontaneity and a mood that shifts from preternatural to earthy and archeological. Towards the end of the piece the tribal drumming returns, this time gaining more prominence, along with wooden timbres. The drumming is ceased for the final phase of the piece, which slips into a vestigial calm and then evaporates.
While this recording is mildly serene, it does tread on the spooky side. Therefore it is a bit too unsettling for me to actually drift asleep to. I do play it night, but choose to remain wide-eyed and active when doing so. However the mood never becomes menacing nor evokes any negative emotion, for Roach and Obmana each possess the keen ability to create darkness without alienating the listener. I feel comfortably creeped-out when listening to this disc as it sparks a similar kind of intrigue and frightening fun one might experience while watching an old mystery movie at night with the lights out. I highly recommend it to those willing to venture into a more shadowy world, and especially to fans of past Roach and Obmana collaborations. SPIRIT DOME is haunted by relics and occupied with ingenuity!